Editor’s Note: The recent heat wave inspired blogger/Kundalini yoga teacher Julie Eisenberg to think about ways her yoga practice can help her to stay calm in the face of challenging circumstances. One of the wonderful things about Kundalini yoga is that is can help you learn to act, not react. Read some of Julie’s suggestions for Kundalini kriyas and meditations to help you Act, not React.
Much of the US right now is suffering through a major heat wave, struggling to stay cool and hydrated. Millions of homes are without power, and libraries, movie theaters, and other public “cooling centers” are packed with people needing to cool down. Meanwhile, in other parts of the country, wildfires are ravaging forests, encroaching on residential areas and threatening lives and livelihoods.
In the face of these real threats, we have an opportunity to put our yoga practice to the ultimate test: we can keep it together in the face of unanticipated—and unwelcome—challenges. Our yoga teachers often tell us that Kundalini Yoga teaches us how to ACT rather than REACT. But how does that work?
Kundalini yoga gives us tools to stay calm in the face of crises. It teaches us to be aware of what we are feeling and respond from the heart. When you feel like you’ve hit a wall of frustration, sit down and begin alternate nostril breathing. Three to 11 minutes of this breath will bring you clarity and allow you to better evaluate your physical, mental and spiritual circumstances.
Music is another way to quickly diffuse any tension. Find an uplifting heart- centered mantra such as Ardas Bhaee by Mirabai Ceiba on the Heart of Healing CD or tap into the positive energy of Cherdi Kalaa by Snatam Kaur, on her CD Liberation’s Door.
To explore this issue deeper, I recommend checking out Yoga Bhajan’s lectures that are found on his Foundation Series Volume 7 DVD: Emotional Compensation. Regardless of whether you are a beginning student or an advanced yoga practitioner, these lectures, kriyas and meditations invite you to explore the roots of Kundalini Yoga and awaken the human psyche.
Here’s a short kriya that you can try to Build Yourself to Act, Not React, from the manual Reaching Me in Me:
1. Stretch your legs straight out in front. Grab your toes and stretch the spine forward. Inhale and tilt the head up, stretching the back of your neck. Exhale and bring your chin to your chest. Maintain the stretch in the spine. Continue to move your head with the breath, being careful not to compress the vertebrae of the neck. Breathe in and out fast and powerfully. 1-1/2 Minutes.
2. Lie down on your back, begin Breath of Fire, and dance your body. Move any way you wish, but don’t raise any part of your body off the floor. No part should be stable, all parts should move. It’s a physically violent reaction to get rid of internal violence in a controlled fashion. It’s “you against you.” Take all the pain out, don’t hold anything in. 3-1/2 Minutes.
3. Relax on your back. Go to sleep. Listen to the tape of the gong meditation played by Yogi Bhajan. Bring your strength to your toes and go with the gong. The three rhythms of the gong will work on the glandular system. If you give yourself a good chance, it will work on the pineal gland. 11 Minutes.
Note: It is said that in order to receive the benefits of this set, it is required that you meditate to the gong meditation played by Yogi Bhajan. This can be found on the CD Gong, The Nucleus of Sound
4. Move feet and hands, wake yourself up.
5. Sit in Easy Pose. Chant, “God and Me, Me and God, Are One” meditatively going from chakra to chakra. 15 Minutes.
To End: Inhale and hold your breath 20-30 seconds and stretch your body. Exhale. Inhale and move your body all around, stimulating your energy. 30 seconds. Exhale and relax.
Finally, don’t forget to stay cool and hydrated! You can find some beautiful eco-friendly water bottles for sale by Spirit Voyage, in a variety of sizes and colors. Keep several on hand and don’t forget to keep one nearby in your yoga class.